So we're back in the swing of things at tutoring, this week being our first for the spring semester. I have been absolutely amazed at how smoothly things have run, and how the kids seem to be transforming right before our eyes. I go upstairs to our 3-5 grade classrooms and can't believe the calm up there. Some of this change is due to the amazing organizational work of Regina Clark and Melissa Lewkowicz, two friends who have been diligently making our program better and better. Some of this change is due to empowering and equipping "Room Mom's" for each classroom who answer questions and keep kids on task, and serve as a resource for the tutors. Some of this is due to the growing number of adults from our church who are serving as volunteers (see photo at right) and the fact that every child is now one-on-one with a tutor.
And I think undergirding all of this is that we have finally vocalized the vision for the program, which states that relationships are just as important to us as academics. This has freed our tutors to do what they really want to do, which is love the kids. Rather than worrying about whether they are getting all their work done or if they are getting the right answer, our tutors are focused on building trust and encouraging the children, which is then moving the kids towards academic success.
During our orientation meeting last weekend, I asked the tutors to do three things during the academic portion of our time: encourage constantly, discipline with purpose, and empower the children to learn more. I think that the encourage constantly piece is undergirding each of the other two, and as Regina said, the words of kindness that our kids are hearing is like water falling on parched ground. That these children would sit and quietly listen while my friend Bob read them a story is unheard of for us, and I think it is because they believe that they are loved and the words of kindness are soaking in.